Englert to screen Bolshoi Ballet's The Pharaoh's Daughter


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The Englert Theater will offer a rare opportunity to see a classic Russian ballet without having to fly 5,075 miles to Moscow.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Englert, 221 E. Washington St., will show the HD Capture of the Bolshoi Ballet performing Marius Petipa's The Pharaoh's Daughter, a ballet following an Englishman traveling through Egypt when a powerful storm breaks out. He is forced to take shelter in the nearest pyramid, where the daughter of one of Egypt's most influential pharaohs lies entombed. When he falls asleep, he dreams the princess has come to life.

UI dance Professor George de la Peña said this kind of sweeping story line is typical of Petipa's work.

"They are famous for epics in the tradition of the late great choreographer Marius Petipa," de la Peña said. "Petipa was the first truly 'successful' choreographer in Russia. He staged epic entertainments that arguably made ballet significant as a narrative entertainment without need of words."

The Englert screened a Bolshoi production in November — along with more than 300 other theaters in 22 countries — and it has shown numerous rebroadcasts of National Theatre performances from London since 2012. Executive Director Andre Perry said hosting international shows, even if they're not performed live onstage, is important.

"[The Bolshoi Theater of Russia] is a series that we picked up this year," Perry said. "We got some really great feedback about National Theatre live performances in the past couple of years, and this seemed like a really natural choice to show these performances that we may not have access to otherwise, unless we were going to New York or Los Angeles on a special trip. It is just a way of bringing awesome art to Iowa City in a different kind of format."

Englert Development Director Katie Roche said the performances appear in Iowa City at a good moment.

"These Bolshoi screenings come at a time when the dance scene in Iowa City really seems to be energized," she said. "Dance is being incorporated into so much of the new work that is being created and new companies, such as New Territory Dance, are cropping up, collaborating, and creating new work. It's good time for this community to get to see what great work is being made by Bolshoi."

Perry encouraged the community to see at least one Bolshoi screening, whether it be Pharoah's Daughter on Saturday or La Bayadere on Jan. 17, Romeo and Juliet on March 20, Swan Lake on April 12, or Ivan the Terrible on May 16.

"You don't have to go to every single one of these things, but go see one or two a year because it is just fun to see another form," Perry said. "It's like if you're really into reading and go see a lot of readings at Prairie Lights, it's important to mix it up for once. You'd be surprised, just having that external event that can really open up your perspective and your world."

Bolshoi Ballet: The Pharaoh's Daughter
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20
Where: Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington
Admission: $15 - $18

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